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Paul Karason, the man who gained Internet fame after a 2008 Today Show appearance to discuss a condition that turned his skin a deep blue color, has died at age 62.
His estranged wife, Jo Anna Karason, told Today.com Tuesday that Karason died on Monday in a Washington hospital. He had been in the hospital since last week after suffering a heart attack and had also dealt with pneumonia and suffered a severe stroke.
According to The Huffington Post, Karason’s skin turned to a shade of blue after using colloidal silver to treat a prior skin disorder. He also wore a pure white beard and the Internet nicknamed him ‘Papa Smurf.’ Jo Anna said that he did not appreciate that nickname.
“That was a nickname he didn’t appreciate, depending on who said it,” Jo Anna said. “If it was a kid who ran up to him saying ‘Papa Smurf,’ it would put a smile on his face. But if it was an adult, well ….”
Silver stopped being used for its antibacterial properties in the 1930s when penicillin was introduced, but the FDA didn’t ban its use in over-the-counter medicines until 1998. It causes argyria, with the silver reacting the same way it does in photographs. Karason did suffer from that condition, but he also had other health problems and was a heavy smoker.
“He has been too ill to work for a while,” Jo Anna told Today.com. “He didn’t like to go out in public much -- only when he thought he needed to, like to go to the bank or to pick up tobacco.”
Here’s Karason’s original interview: